4 SEO Tips for a Website Redesign
1. Preserve Your Website’s Hard-earned Authority
There’s nothing more hurtful than being considered a newbie when you’ve been around the industry for more than 10 years and the same thing goes for your site! If your site has been migrated to a new domain, preserve your page authority by manually mapping pages from the old site to the new site using 301 redirects. 301 redirects indicate that a page has permanently moved to a new location and is the Google-recommended way to direct users and search engines to the correct page. Read more about 301 Redirects in the Google Webmaster Tools Resource.
2. Understand the Pros and Cons of the CMS Platforms You’re Considering
The way to decide if a CMS is right for you is to determine the overall online strategy for your business. Generally, people use CMS for website design because it has built-in features that make it easy for owners to manage and update content. If you’re a small business with a multiple-author blog, a CMS such as WordPress could be ideal. If your business requires a more complex website that can feature thousands of pages and multiple files, Drupal might be your go-to CMS. Check out Open Source CMS and CMS Matrix compare specific CMS platforms.
Ensuring Your CMS is Search-engine Friendly
Rand Fishkin’s recent article discussed in great length what SEO issues to look out for when choosing a CMS. To summarize, a search-engine friendly CMS should ensure easy editing of the following SEO elements on a page-specific level:
- Title Tag Customization
- Static, Keyword Rich URLs
- Meta Tag Customization
- Categorization Structure Flexibility
- 301-Redirect Functionality
- Alt Tags & Image-handling
3. Content Plan and Mapping
Redesigning your site is the perfect opportunity to map out some useful content for
your audience so they’re more willing to revisit your site or engage with you on social media. Something I recently learned from Lee Odden and Kristina Halvorson, who spoke at meshmarketing in Toronto, is to consider content early. Researching your audience and what they like can shorten the life cycle of the customer journey. Reaching out to key influencers can accelerate your network growth and you can capture information and goals that you audience have through web analytics and conversion data. Let that inform our content plan.
4. User Experience (UX) and mobile
Everyone says 2013 is the year for mobile and, in fact, they’ve been saying that every year since 2009. The point is, having a site that works seamlessly into mobile device and tablet is not a thing to be ignored. Site redesign gives you a chance to revisit some things that will be otherwise harder to implement, such as responsive web design and CSS. Responsive Web Design is Google’s recommended configuration for smartphone-optimized site. Sites that use responsive web design use CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device, but serve all devices on the same set of URLs.
Ultimately, SEO and UX should work together to make your site better. While relevance and authority are still the main ranking factors, search engines have found new areas of focus that provide a fuller view of a site’s quality. And these areas can be further enhanced when user experience is taken into account in designing a site:
- Page Speed
- Ease of navigation
- reminder of where the user is on the site with the use of menu functionality and breadcrumbs
- clear call-to-action
- clear navigation labels
- Internal link structure
- Page layout
- proper use of white space, imagery and buttons
- H1 & H2 tags
The main takeaway to consider are: the SEO implications of using a CMS platform, authority, content planning and user experience (UX) which ties in nicely with the fast adoption of mobile when redesigning your site.